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 Home > News & Policies > September 2006

For Immediate Release
September 6, 2006

Fact Sheet: Bringing Terrorists to Justice

     Fact sheet President Discusses Creation of Military Commissions to Try Suspected Terrorists
     Fact sheet In Focus: National Security

Today, The President Announced That Khalid Sheikh Mohammed ("KSM"), Abu Zubaydah, Ramzi Bin Al Shibh, And 11 Other Terrorists In CIA Custody Have Been Transferred To The Custody Of The Department Of Defense, At The U.S. Naval Base At Guantanamo Bay.  More information on the individuals transferred to Guantanamo is available at

These Men Have Provided Valuable Information That Has Saved Innocent Lives In The United States And Around The World.  In addition to terrorists held at Guantanamo, a small number of suspected terrorist leaders and operatives captured during the war have been held and questioned outside the U.S., in a separate program operated by the CIA.  The detainees recently transferred to the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay were previously held and questioned by the CIA.  The CIA program focused on a number of suspected terrorist leaders and operatives – dangerous men with unparalleled knowledge about terrorist networks and plans for new attacks. 

The CIA Program Has Been, And Remains, One Of The Most Vital Tools In Our War Against The Terrorists.  Questioning of detainees in the program has given us information that has saved innocent lives by helping us to stop new attacks in America and abroad.

Information From Detainees Questioned In This Program Has Helped Unravel Plots And Terrorist Cells 

According To Our Intelligence Community, The Program Has Produced Information That Has Saved Lives.  Some Examples Include The Following:  

  • Abu Zubaydah Told Us That Al Qaida Operatives Were Planning To Launch An Attack Inside The United States.  Based on information he provided, the operatives were detained, one while traveling to the U.S.  Zubaydah also disclosed that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed ("KSM") was the mastermind behind the September 11 attacks.  
  • Information Provided By Zubaydah Also Helped Lead To The Capture Of Ramzi Bin Al Shibh, One Of KSM's Accomplices In 9/11.  Together, these two terrorists provided information that helped in the planning and execution of the operation that captured KSM. 
  • KSM Provided Information That Led Us To The Capture Of A Terrorist Operative Named Zubair, Who Provided Information That Helped Lead To The Capture Of Hambali – The Leader Of Al Qaida's Southeast Asian Affiliate Known As JI (Jamal Islamia).  After Hambali's arrest, KSM was questioned again, and he identified Hambali's brother as the leader of a JI cell, and Hambali's conduit for communications with al Qaida.  Hambali's brother was soon captured, and he in turn led us to a cell of 17 Southeast Asian JI operatives.  When confronted with the news that his terror cell had been broken up, Hambali admitted that the operatives were being groomed at KSM's request for attacks inside the U.S., possibly using airplanes.
  • KSM Also Told Us Many Details Of Other Plots To Kill Innocent Americans And Provided Vital Information On Al Qaida's Efforts To Obtain Biological Weapons For Terrorist Attacks.  He described the design of planned attacks on buildings inside the U.S. and how operatives were directed to carry them out.  He told us the operatives had been instructed to ensure the explosions went off at a point that was high enough to prevent the people trapped above from escaping out of the windows.

Suspected Terrorists In The CIA Program Have Provided Everything From Initial Leads To Photo Identifications To Precise Locations Of Where Terrorists Were Hiding – Helping Us Take Potential Mass Murderers Off The Streets Before They Were Able To Kill Or Kill Again.  Detainees in this program have helped us identify individuals that al Qaida deemed suitable for Western operations, including terrorists sent to case targets inside the U.S.  Detainees in this program have identified al Qaida travel routes and safe havens, and explained how al Qaida's senior leadership communicates with its operatives in Iraq.  They have identified voices in recordings of intercepted calls and helped us understand the meaning of potentially critical terrorist communications.

Legislation Authorizing The Creation Of Military Commissions To Try These Suspected Terrorists For War Crimes

Today, The President Sent Legislation To Congress To Specifically Authorize The Creation Of Military Commissions To Try These Suspected Terrorists For War Crimes.  The Bill ensures that these commissions are established in a way that protects our national security and ensures a full and fair trial for the accused.  As soon as Congress acts to authorize the military commissions the President proposed, the men our intelligence officials believe orchestrated the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001, can face justice.  We will also seek to prosecute those believed to be responsible for the attack on the USS Cole – and an operative believed to be involved in the bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. 

The Legislation Also Includes Vital Provisions To Preserve Our Ability To Question Key Terrorist Leaders And Operatives.  We will continue to hunt down terrorist leaders and operatives.  And as more high-ranking terrorists are captured, the CIA program will be crucial to obtaining the life-saving information they can provide. 

  • The Supreme Court's Recent Determination That Common Article Three (CA3) Of The Geneva Conventions Applies To The War With Al Qaida Put In Question The Future Of The CIA Program.  CA3 prohibits "outrages upon personal dignity" and "humiliating and degrading treatment."  These and other provisions are vague and undefined and could be interpreted in different ways by American and foreign judges. 
  • We Owe Our Military And Intelligence Personnel Involved In Capturing And Questioning Terrorists Clear Rules So They Can Continue To Do Their Jobs And Protect Our People.  We are asking Congress to pass legislation that will clarify the rules for our personnel fighting the war on terror.  We need to ensure that those questioning the terrorists can continue to do everything within the limits of the law to get information that can save American lives. 

Passing This Legislation Is A Top Priority, And We Will Work With Congress To Act Quickly To Strengthen And Clarify Our Laws To Meet The Threats Of A New Era.  We will ensure that the CIA program goes forward in a way that follows the law, meets the national security needs of our country, and protects the brave men and women we ask to obtain information that will save innocent lives. 

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